Director of the Ukrainian Recovery Agency Mustafa Nayyem said on Tuesday that Kyiv does not intend to discuss the key demands of Polish carriers who have been blocking three border crossing points over the past two days.
The Polish protesters are demanding the return of the permit regime for Ukrainian carriers and a reduction in the number of permits to the level that existed before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Ukraine has no intention of even discussing a return to the permit system. The agreement on freight liberalisation was ratified and agreed by all EU members, signed between the European Union and Ukraine, not by any individual country,” Mr Nayyem posted on social media.
He recalled that until June 2022, every carrier travelling to the territory of the European Union had to obtain permission to cross the state border with the relevant EU countries.
Starting in 2016, after the entry into force of the EU-Ukraine free trade agreement, the EU became Ukraine's main trading partner, accounting for 40.8 percent of total foreign trade.
Further growth, however, was limited by a lack of permits for international transport, primarily with countries with which we share borders, namely Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Moldova.
“Every year, this led to a significant increase in freight costs in autumn, and Ukrainian and foreign producers were physically unable to export their products,” the Ukrainian official said.
“For instance, in 2021 alone, due to the crisis with Polish permits, we lost up to EUR 500 million just because the permits simply expired and the Polish side refused to issue new ones. If anyone remembers, the market just stood still then.”
According to Mr Nayyem, in 2016, Ukraine had a quota for 200,000 Polish permits, and in 2021, it had only 120,000 permits, while the total trade turnover with the EU countries increased by almost 45 percent. And at the same time, Poland had been increasing the respective quotas for carriers from Russia and Belarus for five years in a row.
“Thus, the Polish side directly violated our rights, as it created conditions worse than those that existed at the time of the entry into force of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement,” he added.
The Ukrainian official said he hoped “we will never return to this shameful and discriminatory practice, which limited our trade with the EU before the large-scale war and can hit our economy now, when road transport is the main artery of our exports.”